Mitochondria are the key to happiness because not only do they regulate our mood (by how they impact our brain and hormone function), but our overall health.
When we are healthy – we are happy! They are THE key to longevity, optimal health, looking good, feeling good, having a highly functioning brain, and the list goes on.
Mitochondria are our energy power houses. If they stopped working we would die within seconds. Their job is to produce ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). When you eat, your mitochondria combine the food with oxygen to make ATP. This process allows us to move, think, breathe, basically everything you can think of that we do as human beings requires this process.
When that process is functioning at a low level, so are we. How does that process get damaged? It was thought that it just happens naturally as we age. Yes, it’s true that mitochondrial function decreases 50% from the age of 35 to 70, but it doesn’t have to! You can look better and feel better as you age if you do less of the things that damage mitochondrial function, and do more of the things that improve it.
Exposure to toxins is public enemy number one for mitochondria. Our brains, eyes, and hearts require the most mitochondria to function and they are the first hit when function goes down. When I got mold illness, within 24 hours of exposure I couldn’t think, my vision was blurry, and I had heart palpitations. There was an immediate assault on my mitochondria that knocked me on my ass. For most people, this assault is slow and steady. Most people slowly feel the decline in brain function, eyesight etc.
Toxins include air quality, chemicals in the foods we eat, plastic containers we put food in, smoking, mold, heavy metals (mercury, and aluminum are big ones). Detoxing these toxins take a tremendous amount of energy away from your bodies other functions (brain, eyes, heart etc). Mitochondria produce antioxidants to counteract the free radicals created by that oxidative stress, but not enough to combat what we face in today’s world. So, antioxidant supplementation is a good idea. I’ll do another post with a list of good antioxidants, and the best ways to take them.
Stress is also a mitochondrial sabotager. Stress produces cortisol, our fight or flight hormone. It’s not a bad thing, we need it for sure, but not too much, too often. Along with that stress, many people reach for sugary foods, processed foods, etc, just magnifying the problem. Most people accept the idea that stress leads to illness. In other words, our negative thoughts affect our bodies in a negative way. But many people still haven’t fully embraced the power our positive thoughts have in influencing our bodies in a positive way. I’ll do a post on this too in more detail, but it the meantime, having a positive inner voice, meditation, and expressing gratitude is a great start!
The food we eat impacts EVERYTHING and it’s the easiest way to increase, or decrease mitochondrial function. Much more on a later post, but for now just know that every bit counts. Non organic foods sprayed with glysophates are the quickest way to destroy your mitochondria. At the same time, eating nutrient dense, antioxidant fruits and vegetables (mostly veggies because they’re lower in sugar), are the easiest way to increase function.
Hormones are also a big player here. Your thyroid is vulnerable to problems. When I got mold illness I had Hashimoto’s Disease (under active thyroid) for a minute. Most people never get rid of thyroid disease, and take medication throughout their lifetime, but mine past quickly once I detoxed from mold. My thyroid wasn’t functioning because I had too many mold toxins stored in my liver. Many people have heavy metals stored in their liver as well. When your liver is overwhelmed it isn’t able to convert T4 (our main thyroid hormone) to T3. We need T3 to help our mitochondria create ATP. So the result of a maxed out liver is poor thyroid and mitochondrial function. Again, I’ll do a full post on liver detox, but decreasing alcohol consumption, eating beets, and doing castor oil packs are a good place to start. I also love binders like charcoal. I have a few brands I like, and I take them daily. It can cause constipation so up your water and veggie intake while taking them. Which is always a good idea anyway.
Oxygen is a key player here as well because, as I stated earlier, it is needed in order for our mitochondria to create ATP. So sorry to those exercise haters, but it’s kind of a non-negotiable if you want optimal health. Exercise also produces happy hormones (dopamine) so definitely worth it. For those with brain trauma, like mold illness, ADHD, concussions, stroke, etc. hyperbaric oxygen therapy is also a great way to deliver more oxygen, and aid in repair.
Intermittent fasting is a great tool for increasing mitochondrial function. It’s been very popular lately, but it can be detrimental if not done correctly. I have a lot to say about it, but for now you may want to just have it on your radar as a tool for optimal health.
Cold therapy is also amazing for happy mitochondria. Cryotherapy is phenomenal. There are locations in most cities that offer it. It’s when you strip down and jump in a tank with a temperature of around negative 200 degrees for up to 3 minutes. The first time I did it, so much energy was created in my mitochondria that I couldn’t sleep until 2 am. I usually fall fast asleep by 10:00. It’s not cheap, and not always easy to make time for that so jumping in a freezing cold shower will also do the trick. Every night when my little ones go to bed at 7 I take an infrared sauna and jump into a freezing shower after. My older ones go to bed later, but I can’t wait for them to go to bed before I do it otherwise I won’t be able to sleep. Cold therapy creates mitochondrial biogenesis. Meaning you make more of them. That’s a good thing because it will increase brain, eye, and heart function — as well as just giving you more overall energy and increasing your mood!
Basically, if you want to prevent dementia, heart disease, cancer, brain fog, and pretty much anything else you can think of – keep your mitochondria happy! It’s just too much for one post, but I’m hoping this will start the ball rolling, or at least get you thinking about how every choice we make has an enormous impact on our overall health.